reThought Flood

Forecasting Hurricanes Part 2

In Part 1 of this forecasting hurricanes series, I concluded that hurricanes are happening more often, and this year could be a heavy hurricane year, according to the forecasters. So: what is actionable about this information? 

Large companies and governments will be shifting inventories and resources in recognition of these forecasts, and planning their response to the actual events before they occur. They will want to update response plans, test comms networks, and ensure emergency supplies are adequate. Those in the insurance sector – and especially reinsurance companies – will be examining their exposures. Some will seek short-term catastrophe loss protection through reinsurance, or even the purchase of catastrophe bonds. 

For individual property owners, this is heads-up about a probably active hurricane season. The same precautions as always should be taken. Preparations should already be underway, especially in coastal areas, but also inland where there’s a prior flood experience. There are no easy defenses to hurricane storm-surge and rainfall flooding, but some efforts will deliver major benefits. Here are a few that could really help reduce your losses when you’re sitting in the track of the next big storm:

  1. Recognize that if you leave your property under an evacuation order or voluntarily you may not be able to return quickly.  (We recommend you follow local guidance for evacuation. Houses are replaceable, humans are not.) Roads can wash out, and entry to hard-hit areas can be proscribed by authorities. Make a plan for staying away. 
  1. In the rush to escape the storms, essential financial records are often overlooked. But beware: you will need documents and passwords to report insurance claims. Keep them in a special file in the car or digitally accessible (and remember that reThought Flood policyholders can report claims easily using 
  1. Think through your pre-storm preparations carefully. Secure furniture, close openings, plug drains, and do whatever can be done to keep water out of a defined perimeter. Elevate contents above the ground floor when you can. Move vehicles to higher ground. Indeed, if you have space available, park vehicles on the highest ground possible.
  1. After the storm, expedite your recovery. The longer it takes to clean up and dry out, the worse the damage will be. Once restoration and recovery contractors can get in, the clean-up will be much faster if it is facilitated by the property owner. Utility restoration usually comes first: getting heat and cooling restored to the building. Dedicated hookups for emergency generators are useful. Electric services can be elevated as high as possible so there is no waiting for replacement of wiring. Any natural or propane gas service should have regulators or at least their vents elevated so they are not inundated. Owners of large or commercial properties should consider pre-contracting for restoration services, to get to the head of the line (and pay less to get served first).

Most importantly, think through the steps you will take when a storm forecast enters the countdown phase, and recognize it as a dynamic situation. You may need alternate choices which will vary based on the actions of local authorities. And don’t get caught in the traffic!

Ed Haas

Ed Haas joined reThought Insurance in October 2019 as property risk and CAT modeling consultant. Ed was formerly with Marsh Risk Consulting for over twenty years as Senior VP, with a focus on natural hazard modeling for flood, wind, earthquake, and other perils. Work included managing data for modeiing, interpreting results, and applying them to insurance and risk management programs. The work included site assessments at a wide variety of unique properties throughout the US and internationally. Ed was the Risk Consulting leader in the Marsh Real Estate Practice and served as lead risk advisor to the largest clients. Responsibilities included insurance program design in regard to selection of limits and deductibles, as well as designing and managing appropriate risk control programs. Specification for new construction with regard to CAT perils was a key contribution to these clients, Ed’s career started with FM Global, and has held P&C broker’s and professional engineer licenses.

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